A police force is imploring people to reconsider whether their situation warrants an urgent response, after revealing some of the most bizarre requests made during 999 calls.
Essex Police have criticised callers who abuse the service, explaining that dealing with time-wasting calls results in delays in responding to people in need of real help.
A few of the non-emergency requests the force had heard from in the past six months included a man who called to complain about being kicked out of a pub.
He reportedly called 999 “repeatedly” and kept asking for pizza, before hanging up.
“The only thing he got delivered to his door were two of our officers who had some stern words of advice,” a spokesperson from the force said.
Another caller was a driver on the M11 who dialed 999 to ask for a police escort because he was late home for dinner.
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And another man contacted officers to ask for a lift home, after missing the bus.
In a separate call, a girl asked for help as she claimed she couldn’t find her way out of some stinging nettles.
Essex Police said it had deal with more than 3,000 emergency calls over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
According to control room head Chief Inspector Ian Gennery, the vast majority of those were from people facing a genuine emergency.
His team will never disconnect a call without offering advice, he said.
But, he said there had also been a worrying amount of calls that were not emergencies. In light of this, he asked people to consider if their situation warranted an urgent police response.
“Do we really need to be directing officers and resources away from a domestic incident or a serious collision to come and help you?” he said.
“If it doesn’t, there are a lot of other methods you can use, and there are lots of resources to look at on our website. You can use the 101 system to speak to someone over the phone, the live chat function on our website, or submit an online report.”
He reiterated that anyone in need of urgent police assistance should call 999.
Lauren Simmons has answered 999 calls for Essex Police for three years.
She had fielded a call from someone who couldn’t get their boyfriend home because he was too drunk and was abused when she told the caller this wasn’t something the police could help with.
“No matter what their reasoning may be, everyone knows that you don’t call 999 for a taxi or a pizza. It’s common sense,” she said.
Other police forces in recent weeks have similarly warned against people making time-wasting calls.
One man called police for help last week – though this was on the non-emergency 101 number – after his daughter got stuck in her new coat.
And last week it was revealed that an aspiring police officer rang 999 to check on the progress of his application to join North Wales Police.
Another woman who had managed to get her sofa jammed in her hallway while trying to move it called for police assistance to ask if an officer could come around to help.
North Wales Police control room manager Paul Shea described as “silly”.
Another call that sticks in the memory was the one from the lady with the spider on the bed. She was scared and wanted a police officer to come to move the spider,” Mr Shea said.
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